“London’s oldest street sign”

Posted by exploringLondon on January 30, 2017:

“…Now located on a street of another name, London’s oldest street sign is generally believed to be that of Yorke Street and dates from 1636.

The rather small sign, which is located on a building dating from the 1730s, is now located high up at 34-36 Tavistock Street in Covent Garden (above a blue plaque commemorating author Thomas de Quincey (1785-1859), writer of Confessions of an English Opium Eater).

Another of the oldest signs can be found at the corner of Chigwell Hill and The Highway – it refers to ‘Chigwell Streate’ and bears the date 1678….”

From the Layers of London website:

“…York Street, the name by which this part of the street had been known since it was laid out in the 1630s. A name tablet between 34 and 36 Tavistock Street, inscribed ‘Yorke Street 1636’, is thought to be London’s oldest surviving street sign.

The street was renamed by the London County Council (LCC) in 1937 as part of their effort to abolish duplicate street names across the capital (all 4,000 of them). In this case, the LCC’s Street Naming Office extended the reach of the original Tavistock Street eastwards and renumbered the buildings.

The fact that many streets retained their old signs – and were still known by their original names – presented a problem for emergency services during World War Two. In the absence of a comprehensive list of the LCC’s changes, Fred Rayment, a London fireman, compiled his own. Fortunately, the manuscript version was rediscovered in 1998 and has since been digitised (see link below).


London Metropolitan Archives also holds the annotated street renaming maps used by the LCC (GLC/AR/BR/SN/02).”

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